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Be alert and keep vigil: Rahul to Congress workers

A party chief motivating workers before election results is not unusual, but the stress on vigilance is
Congress president Rahul Gandhi
Congress president Rahul Gandhi

Our Special Correspondent   |   New Delhi   |   Published 22.05.19, 09:30 PM

On the eve of counting day, fear of mischief is the overriding concern of senior Opposition leaders who otherwise believe that the game is wide open no matter what the exit polls predicted.

An appeal Congress president Rahul Gandhi issued to party workers on Wednesday betrayed this fear.


“Dear Congress workers, the next 24 hours are very important. Be alert and keep vigil. Don’t be afraid. You are fighting for truth. Don’t be disheartened by the fake exit polls. Have faith in your own ability and the Congress party. Your hard work won’t go waste,” Rahul tweeted.

A party chief motivating workers before election results is not unusual, but the stress on vigilance is.

On Tuesday, party leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had issued a similar appeal to workers: “Don’t pay attention to rumours and exit polls and keep vigil at strong rooms and counting centres. Don’t get disheartened by exit polls. These are rumours meant to demoralise you. Your alertness is all the more important in this atmosphere. We hope your dedication and hard work will yield positive results.”

Even as it holds discussions with other Opposition parties on possible scenarios emerging from the results, the Congress took time out on Wednesday to voice outrage at the Election Commission’s refusal to tally votes with the paper trail in select polling stations at the start of counting.

The EC’s stubborn refusal would unnecessarily deepen people’s suspicion about the electoral process, it said.

Party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said at a news conference: “It is a complete mystery as to why our demand for VVPAT counting ahead of EVM has been rejected. We never get reasons. I want to ask what on earth can be a possible ground for rejection of this most reasonable demand. They are mandatorily obliged to count five VVPAT in each assembly segment as mandated by the Supreme Court. We demanded that this checking should happen at the beginning of counting.”

He added: “The idea is to sample-check at the beginning. Whether the sample you are checking is poisoned or not, logically should be done in the beginning. How can it be done after 5-7-10-12-14 rounds are done? When who is leading in various rounds is known through counting agents, you will start the critical sample check. What is the purpose of it? Secondly, there is no logistical infirmity or problem in doing it in the beginning. There is no additional delay of one minute even.”

This demand had come from 22 parties that represent over 70 per cent of the electorate in the current House, Singhvi said.

“Let us assume the EC disagrees with us, they should still have done it for confidence-building, to restore the credibility of the counting process. Was our demand rejected because the EVM has become an Electoral Victory Machine for the BJP? Is it because the EC has become an enfeebled commission or is it because the EC has now got eradicated credibility? Whichever of these four reasons apply, it is very, very sad and unfortunate. It is a constitutional body,” he said.

Bringing up the Opposition’s other demand, that all votes in an Assembly segment be tallied with the paper trail if the check in one polling station throws up a mismatch, Singhvi said: “What is so great earth-shattering or troublesome about this simple request? It is the most reasonable, obvious, non-invasive, non-prejudicial demand that doesn’t change the schedule by one minute. These are still live issues.”

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